How To Get Spilled Coffee Smell Out of Car? (2023)

We understand the frustration of rushing and accidentally spilling your morning cup of joe on those freshly cleaned seats. The good news is, there are effective solutions to quickly clean up the mess and prevent stubborn stains from setting in. 

In this comprehensive guide, brought to you by Cares Fresh, we will not only walk you through the steps to clean spilled coffee in your car but also provide valuable insights on how to get rid of that persistent coffee smell. 

By following our practical tips and techniques, you’ll be able to maintain the cleanliness of your vehicle and enjoy a fresh-smelling interior. Say goodbye to the disappointment of coffee spills and hello to a revitalized car environment.

Do Not Forget to Read About: Best and Latest Air Purifiers

How To Get Spilled Coffee Smell Out of Car?

With the right techniques and products, you can effectively remove the coffee smell and restore your car’s freshness. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore step-by-step methods to tackle coffee spills and banish the associated odors from your vehicle. 

From quick initial actions to specialized cleaning strategies, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get rid of that unwanted coffee scent.

How To Get Spilled Coffee Smell Out of Car

Section 1: Immediate Actions for Coffee Spills

Blotting the Spill: 

Act quickly to blot the spilled coffee using absorbent materials like paper towels or cloths. Avoid rubbing the coffee into the seat to prevent it from setting and staining.

Applying a Spray-On Cleaner: 

Use a spray-on cleaner and gently rub the spot with a clean towel or sponge. This helps to break down the coffee residue and remove any visible stains.

Wiping Down Surfaces: 

Don’t forget to wipe down any additional spilled coffee on surfaces like door trim, cup holders, and carpets. This prevents the spread of the coffee and minimizes the chance of odor development.

Further Information: Best Air Purifier for Car

Section 2: Removing Coffee Stains and Odors

Rinsing with Clean Water: 

Rinse the spot with clean water and continue blotting until no coffee stain appears on the cloth. This step helps to flush out any remaining coffee residue and further reduce the likelihood of stains.

Drying the Seat: 

Use a hairdryer or open windows to dry the seat, especially if it’s warm outside. Proper drying prevents moisture buildup, which can contribute to odor formation.

Vinegar Solution for Faint Stains: 

If faint stains persist, create a mixture of warm water and vinegar. Apply it to the stain and gently wipe with a fresh cloth. Vinegar’s natural cleaning properties help to lift the remaining coffee marks.

Countering Lingering Smells with Baking Soda: 

Combat lingering coffee smells by using baking soda or an odor absorber. Sprinkle baking soda on the affected area and leave it for a few hours. Then, vacuum up the powder. Baking soda helps absorb odors and freshen the air in your car.

Using Odor Eliminators and Air Fresheners: 

To further eliminate any remaining smells, spray an odor eliminator or air freshener in the area where the coffee was spilled. Choose products specifically designed to neutralize odors rather than mask them.

Section 3: Specialized Cleaning Techniques for Different Surfaces

Hydrogen Peroxide for Stubborn Stains: 

For persistent stains, apply hydrogen peroxide to the stained area and let it sit for about five minutes. Blot away the solution with a cloth or paper towel. Repeat if necessary until the stain fades.

Vacuuming for Moisture and Debris: 

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any remaining moisture or debris from the spillage. Thoroughly vacuum the affected area, ensuring you reach all corners and crevices.

Harnessing the Power of White Vinegar: 

Utilize white vinegar mixed with water to eliminate coffee smells effectively. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of white vinegar help combat odor-causing microorganisms. Apply the mixture to the coffee area and scrub thoroughly before wiping it away.

Further Information: Why Does My Car Smell Like Ammonia

Tailored Approaches for Different Surfaces:

Fabric Car Seats: 

If fabric car seats still retain a coffee smell after cleaning, pat the area with a soaked cloth or sponge and then dry it. Avoid using water on heated seats to prevent potential short circuits. 

Consider professional car wash services or using an ozone generator for thorough cleaning and odor elimination.

Leather Car Seats: 

Wipe leather seats quickly after a spill and consider using vinegar, baking soda, or specialized leather conditioning products to remove smells. Conditioning the leather with high-quality linseed oil or shoe polish can help naturally remove odors. 

Additionally, air out leather seats by leaving the car windows open and exposing them to fresh air and sunlight daily.

Dashboard Cleaning: 

Wipe the dashboard with a soft microfiber cloth, using polish, soap, and water to clean and make it shine. 

Pay attention to crevices and hard-to-reach places, which can harbor coffee residue. A soft toothbrush can be handy for thorough cleaning in these areas.

Car Carpets: 

Treat car carpets with a special detergent designed for automotive use. Scrub the fibers thoroughly to remove stains and odors. 

Ensure the carpet is thoroughly dried after cleaning. Consider using a car steam cleaner for a more effective deep cleaning. Steam cleaning lifts dirt and particles from the fabric, eliminating odors. 

A vacuum-like head attachment can be used to make multiple passes over the carpet, ensuring the removal of odor-causing particles.

Further Information: How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Car

What To Do With Old Spilled Coffee in Your Car

Now, we will explore step-by-step methods and professional solutions to help you effectively deal with old spilled coffee in your car.

Act Quickly, Even with Dried Stains:

Although acting quickly on fresh stains is ideal, you can still address dried coffee stains using a warm water and vinegar mixture. 

Prepare a solution by mixing one tablespoon of vinegar with 16 tablespoons of water in a spray bottle. This mixture can still break down the stain and eliminate the odor.

Apply the Vinegar Solution:

Spray the vinegar solution onto the dried coffee stain, ensuring even coverage. Allow the solution to set for a minute or two, allowing the vinegar’s cleaning properties to work on the stain. This will help loosen the dried coffee particles and make them easier to remove.

Rinse with Clean Water:

After the vinegar solution has had time to work, rinse the area with clean water. This will help remove the vinegar residue and any remaining coffee particles. Thoroughly rinse until the water runs clear, ensuring no residue is left behind.

To expedite the drying process, use a blow dryer on a low or cool setting to dry the spot. If the stain persists or if there is still an odor, repeat the above steps until the stain and odor are eliminated. Patience and persistence are key in dealing with old coffee stains.

Test Glass Cleaners:

If you prefer using glass cleaners, it’s essential to test them on an inconspicuous part of your upholstery first. This precautionary step will help ensure that the glass cleaner doesn’t cause discoloration or damage to your car’s upholstery.

Special Care for Leather Seats:

Leather seats require a pH-balanced leather cleaner specifically designed to tackle spilled coffee stains. Look for these cleaners in the automotive sections of stores. 

Apply the leather cleaner following the product instructions to effectively remove coffee stains without harming the leather’s integrity.

Seeking Professional Assistance:

If the coffee stain on your leather seats persists or if you prefer professional expertise, consider visiting a detailing center. These centers specialize in automotive cleaning and can provide expert assistance in effectively cleaning spilled coffee from leather seats. 

They have the necessary knowledge and equipment to tackle tough stains and restore your seats to their original condition.

Additional Benefits of Detailing Centers:

In addition to addressing coffee stains on leather seats, detailing centers can also handle dirt, dust, and shampooing the carpet. This comprehensive approach ensures an overall fresher look and smell for your car’s interior. 

Professionals at detailing centers are well-trained in the process of cleaning spilled coffee in cars and can provide tailored solutions for your specific needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the smell of coffee fade?

Yes, the smell of coffee will eventually fade over time. The exact duration depends on various factors such as ventilation, temperature, and the strength of the coffee aroma. Typically, the aroma will dissipate within a few hours to a couple of days.

Does vinegar remove coffee smell?

Yes, vinegar can help remove coffee smell from various surfaces. Its acidic properties can help neutralize and eliminate odors. To use vinegar to remove coffee smell, you can create a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water, then apply it to the affected area or use it for cleaning.

How do you clean spilled drinks in a car?

To clean spilled drinks in a car, follow these steps:

Act quickly to prevent the spill from spreading and soaking into the upholstery or carpet.

Blot the spill gently with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb as much liquid as possible.

Mix a mild detergent or upholstery cleaner with water, and apply it to the stained area.

Use a soft brush or sponge to gently scrub the stain, working from the outside toward the center to avoid spreading it further.

Rinse the area with clean water and blot it dry with a towel.

If the spill has seeped into the carpet, you may need to use a carpet cleaner or take the car to a professional detailer for deeper cleaning.

Does coffee damage car paint?

Coffee itself is not likely to damage car paint unless it contains additives or corrosive substances. However, if coffee is left on the car’s surface for an extended period or if it contains sugar or other staining agents, it can potentially lead to paint discoloration or damage. It’s best to clean any spilled coffee promptly to prevent any adverse effects on the car’s paint.

What vinegar cleans coffee?

White vinegar is commonly used to clean coffee stains or residue. Its mild acidity helps break down and remove coffee stains from various surfaces. When using vinegar for cleaning coffee stains, dilute it with water to avoid causing any damage or discoloration, especially on delicate materials or surfaces.

How long can coffee stay in a car?

It is generally recommended not to leave coffee or any beverage in a car for an extended period, especially in warm or hot conditions. If the car is parked in direct sunlight or exposed to high temperatures, coffee can spoil and develop unpleasant odors within a few hours. Moreover, if the coffee is spilled, it’s crucial to clean it promptly to prevent stains, odors, or potential damage to the car’s interior.

Does coffee absorb odors in a car?

Coffee can have a temporary deodorizing effect in a car due to its strong aroma, which may mask other odors. However, it doesn’t actively absorb odors like activated charcoal or baking soda. To eliminate odors effectively, it’s recommended to clean and deodorize the car’s interior using appropriate cleaning products and techniques, rather than relying solely on the scent of coffee.

Kristen Park - Specialised Content Writer for Caresh Fresh


My name is Kristen Park and I am a senior writer specialising in how-to guides and home cleaning information at Cares Fresh. As a researcher, I take pride in digging deep to find every small detail on a topic and explaining it in a way that is easy for the reader to understand.